Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls Balandeliai

One of the best traditional Lithuanian dishes that is made in many other countries across with just a few modifications! Cabbage rolls are typically made with some type of mincemeat and rice filling rolled into cabbage leaves and cooked in a light tomato sauce. Served with boiled potatoes and a generous dollop of sour cream, the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are filling, homey and delicious!

This dish is in Seb’s Top 3 favourite Eastern European dishes. Mine too! Stuffed Cabbage Leaves represent true home cooking for me. Simple everyday ingredients, hearty and cooked in large batches to feed the whole family. When I make these at home now, just for the two of us, we have enough for three days – I simply don’t know how to cook these in smaller batches.

Most countries around the world seem to have their own version of stuffed cabbage rolls. Whilst the filling and cooking methods vary slightly, the French call them Chou Farci, Lebanese have Malfouf, in Poland they are Golabki and in Germany – Krautwickel. Today I am sharing a Lithuanian version of stuffed cabbage rolls – BALANDELIAI. The word itself has several meanings, it could mean small doves, pigeons or simply two people madly in love. Why they are called that, I never questioned (until writing this post, at which point I asked my mum and Google, and neither could give me a definitive answer).

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The recipe uses a whole medium-sized cabbage head. The best time of the year to make these is when cabbages are in season and you can use a young, freshly harvested head. You can use green or white cabbage – they both work equally well. I haven’t tried making these with Savoy, but I hear that the French have a very similar dish (Chou Farci) that uses Savoy, so I am sure it would work great too.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

The filling in my stuffed cabbage rolls is simple – pork, rice, onion and seasoning. The cabbage rolls are cooked in a tomato-based vegetable sauce and served with a generous dollop of sour cream on top!


How to Make Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls?

To make the filling, mix pork mince with rice and finely chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (large enough to cover at least 2/3 of the cabbage head). Place the cabbage head in a pot. Boil on low heat for approx. 10 minutes. When the outer leaves soften, carefully cut them off from the cabbage head and place them on a plate. Return the cabbage and keep on boiling to soften the leaves, then remove them and carry on until you are left with just a small head with leaves too small to roll filling in.

Whilst the cabbage is boiling, on medium-high heat, fry the grated carrots and onions with a tbsp of butter until starting to brown.

Cut the hard thick part of the stem from each cabbage leaf. Simply run the knife flat across to make the thickness of the stalk the same as the rest of the leaf (see the first photo below).

Spoon 2 tbsp of filling in the centre of each leaf, fold the cabbage over and wrap it into a roll. Continue until you’ve used up all the filling and cabbage leaves. (I got 16 cabbage rolls in total).

Place the rolls snuggly in a single layer at the bottom of the pot. Then scatter with some carrots and onions. Add another layer of cabbage rolls and keep on alternating with the fried veg until you’ve run out.

Mix the stock in approx 1.5l of water (you may need more or less depending on the shape of your pan) and the ketchup. Pour the mixture into the pot (add more water if needed to cover approx 2/3 of the rolls in the pot). Season with salt, black pepper and add a couple of knobs of butter and a couple of tbsp of sour cream on top and cook on low heat for approx. 50 minutes covered with a lid.

Serve the cabbage rolls with boiled potatoes, all covered in the thin tomato sauce they cooked in and a generous dollop of sour cream.


For my favourite Eastern European-inspired recipes, have a look at the recipe selection below:

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

One of the best traditional Lithuanian dishes that is made in many other countries across with just a few modifications! Cabbage rolls are typically made with some type of mincemeat and rice filling rolled into cabbage leaves and cooked in a light tomato sauce. Served with boiled potatoes and a generous dollop of sour cream, the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are filling, homey and delicious!
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Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Eastern European, Lithuanian
Servings 6 portions
Calories 502 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 medium-sized cabbage white or green
  • 300 g pork mince
  • 75 g white rice
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 carrots coarsely grated
  • 1 brown onion thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 vegetable stock cube

To Serve:

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 200 ml sour cream or creme fraiche

Instructions
 

  • To make the filling, mix pork mince with rice, finely chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil (large enough to cover at least 2/3 of the cabbage head). Place the cabbage head in a pot. Boil heat for approx. 10 minutes. When the outer leaves soften, carefully cut them off from the cabbage head and place on the plate. Return the cabbage and keep on boiling to soften the leaves until you are left with a just a samll head with leaves too small to roll filling in.
  • Whilst the cabbage is boiling, on medium-high heat fry the grated carrots and sliced onions with a tbsp of butter until starting to brown.
  • Cut the hard thick stalks of each cabbage leaf thicker part of the stem from each cabbage leaf. Simply run the knife flat across to make the thickness of the stalk the same as the rest of the leaf.
  • Spoon 2 tbsp of filling in the centre of each leaf, fold the cabbage over and wrap into a roll. Continue until you've used up all the filling and cabbage leaves. (I got 16 cabbage rolls in total).
  • Place the rolls snuggly in a single layer at the bottom of the pot. Then scatter with some carrots and onions. Add another layer of cabbage rolls and keep on alternating with the fried veg until you've run out.
  • Mix the stock in approx 1.5l of water (you may need more or less depending on the shape of your pan) and the ketchup. Pour the mixture into the pot (add more water if needed to cover approx 2/3 of the rolls in the pot). Season with salt, black pepper and add a couple of knobs of butter and a couple of tbsp of sour cream on top and cook on low heat for approx. 50 minutes covered with a lid.
  • Serve the cabbage rolls with boiled potatoes, all covered in the thin tomato sauce they cooked in and a generous dollop of sour cream.

Nutrition

Calories: 502kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 17gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 386mgPotassium: 1415mgFiber: 10gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 7061IUVitamin C: 84mgCalcium: 142mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Balandeliai, Balandeliai Receptas, Balandeliai Recipe, Cabbage Stuffed with pork and RIce, Eastern European Cabbage Rolls, Lithuanian Balandeliai Recipe, Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls, Lithuanian Food, Lithuanian Recipes, Pork & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
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